Shared in the Silence

Is there power in the words never said or spoken? Many would argue these are the most important and yet it seems they are constantly overlooked.

In reading Jacob’s story, it was interesting how often she was unable to speak directly of her abuse. Sure she was able to allude and dance around the topic, but she was never able to put what happened in direct words. Many can say that it was an aspect of the times and a more strict culture, but is that really the case? Can we really blame how society was for this silence? In looking at today’s culture and working with those that have felt this abuse, the answer would appear to be no.

Though we live in a  culture that exploits and flaunts sexuality, when it comes to those that have been victimized and terrorized, the victims are unable to voice their abuse. Whether it be because of shame or because they feel no one would believe them, fear seals their lips and they are stuck reliving that horror alone. It is because of this reason that I believe Jacobs story resonates more with many readers. Having been a victim of sexual abuse myself, it was astounding how similar my feelings were similar to Jacobs. For years it was hard to put the abuse into words, let alone speak them aloud. Though we lived over a hundred years apart, I felt linked to a women that understood what I had been through. It also helped give further evidence that even now, the power of personal autonomy, is one of the most important aspect of freedom to fight for and yet it seemed to have been overlooked in Douglass. Could this have simply been because Douglass was a man? I do believe that this is one major factor into this oversight, as Douglass did not live in the same fear as Jacobs. Though he feared physical pain and death, he never seemed to have feared losing the control of his own body. Part of this may have been because Douglass had the physical strength to defend himself and another was simply how different men and women were treated and in some ways, still are treated in society. Though there have been many advances in the rights not just for slaves, but for women in particular, women are still fighting for the simple right over their own bodies. Though it may be translated in different policies women are still not given complete control over their own bodies and the legal system, especially in the cases involving rape or sexual abuse show that women are still facing inequality. Jacobs account seemed to show that even though it occurred over 100 years ago, many are still facing very similar problems today.

When one is afraid of personal and physical violation, can one really say they are free? When someone even fears voicing their pain, can they really say they are free? And when someone’s pain can be reflected in someone that lived over 100 years ago, can society really say that change has occurred?

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3 Responses to Shared in the Silence

  1. pizza says:

    Thank you for writing this personal and courageous post. Like yourself, I too agree with the fact that Jacobs time, and our time have not changed much in regards to this topic. Victim shaming still occurs in our day and quite frankly it disgusts me that people have the audacity to do that to someone who’d faced such a traumatizing occurrence. Instead of telling people DON’T GET RAPED how about we start telling people HEY DON’T RAPE. That is more of a sound and valid statement in my opinion. We cannot allow this to occur, we ought to be there for those who suffered such trauma. Which is why I appreciate your post so much because I too related to Jacobs feelings and pain because I am also a victim of sexual abuse. I felt that I could not reach out for help with fear of being shamed and when I did finally bring up the courage to reach out for help, that person did not believe me. I never felt so wretched or worthless in my life. Even now, returning to that time it brings tears to my eyes because when I truly needed someone, I had no one. However, as I got older and saw how others like myself have gone what I’ve gone through, I can confide in them with my story knowing that they will not reject me. But it pains me to see the vast amount of people who fall victim of sexual abuse. The number is so large that I cannot believe it. Jacobs, yourself, and I are one too many. And if you and I are going through what Jacobs when through years ago, as a society we have not made progress.

    Again, thank you so much for being so brave and sharing this.

  2. Thank you for your post and I appreciate the honesty. You did not have to mention your own experience regarding sexual abuse and you are courageous to do this. The act of recalling your perspective on the issue shows strength. I cannot attest to the feeling of being violated, but I have spoken to many women and some men regarding their personal experiences. I cannot comprehend why the violator could preform such an act. It angers me to think that those people exist, but unfortunately they do. The idea of having them serve time is justice for their actions seems to not be enough due to the damage they cause the victim.
    With that being said, there does in fact need to be change and assistance to the ones affected. Our society wants revenge and sometimes we lose track of the people that need help the most. We can see the issue of physical and emotional abuse and yet, there has not been a solution to fix it. What is the solution to this? I do not know for sure, but the courage that you and others have to voice their perspective impacts many to attempt to change the mindset of others. That means being aware of different factors that can lead to these crimes, understanding situations and taking precaution, or speaking up on against people that believe that others ask for this. Nobody asks for this! People have the right to express themselves in anyway, but we cannot sit idly by believing that based off the way someone acts or dresses, they ask for this. NO, I hear your story! You, Jacobs, and other people that voice themselves creates awareness. I believe this will change society’s view on these crimes, which should lead to providing aid to those that need it.

  3. fern1007 says:

    Thank you to both fallenstar66 and pizza for your courageous posts. I simply want to say that I believe both of you are brave as hell for detailing the terrible the amount of pain and trauma you both have been through. I believe you, and I support you. And I truly believe that in open and frank conversation healing does occur, and that we are also able to reach out to other survivors to say, “Hey, I believe you and I stand by you.”

    Take Back the Night is a grassroots effort to support, empower and outreach to people within the Valley about sexual assault, prevention, and the community resources available to survivors. At the end of the night we rally throughout First Friday carrying signs such as “Smash the silence of sexual violence” or “No, I did not ask for it!”. This march has been incredibly empowering for me, and I would be honored if you two would join us. Take Back the Night is April 3rd from 5-9pm at the Phoenix Civic Space Center. If you have any more questions, please feel free to speak to me after class. Or I can provide the info to Professor Kirkpatrick, if that would make you feel more comfortable.

    Thank you for your wonderful posts!

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